Feb 282012

Banana Baked AlaskaFebruary 1st is National Baked Alaska Day.

Baked Alaska’s are a scrumptious dessert in which ice cream is placed on a sponge cake and then the whole thing is encased in meringue. It is kept frozen until serving time and then it is placed in a hot oven or under a broiler or even torched to brown the meringue.

The origin of the dessert has been debated. But the basis may be from a Chinese dish that used frozen ices served under a toasted pastry topping. In 1866, Chinese chefs brought this dish with them during a diplomatic mission to Paris. [1]

The French changed the pastry to meringue and called it an Omelette Norvégienne or “Norwegian Omelette”.

The name Baked Alaska was popularized by Delmonico’s Restaurant, New York, in 1876 to honor the recently acquired American territory. Note that a recipe for “Baked Alaska Apple Pie” showed up in an 1855 cookbook, The Philadelphia Housewife, by Aunt Mary. [2]

Baked Alaska
2 pints or 1 quart brick-style ice cream
1-inch-thick piece sponge cake or layer cake
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup granulated sugar

Lay ice cream bricks side by side. Measure length and width.
Trim cake 1 inch larger than ice cream measurements all around.
Place cake on a piece of foil and center ice cream on cake.
Cover and freeze until firm.
Beat together egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
Transfer cake with ice cream to a baking sheet.
Preheat oven to 500F.
Spread egg white mixture all over ice cream and cake. It should completely cover.
Place oven rack in lowest position.
Bake 3 minutes or until golden.
Serve immediately.

Have you every had a Baked Alaska?

[1] Jacques Granet, A History of Chinese Civilization, v.2, for coverage of diplomatic missions and relationships with France in the 19th century.
[2] What’s Cooking America
photo courtesy of Yun Huang Yong, wikipedia.org

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 February 28, 2012  Posted by at 3:18 pm 02 February Tagged with: , ,